Janel Cross, AIF®

Managing Partner at Align Retirement Plan Advisors

Why I get up in the morning

To change something. Many things motivate me but a desire to create change underpins everything else.

Terror attacks, financial crises, pandemics – life is always throwing curve balls. Layer in sensationalized, negative media headlines and it’s almost impossible to avoid fear.  

“I feel better since we talked.” Hearing someone say that is a sign of a good day at work! It’s normal to worry about having enough money. That’s why I work as a change agent – converting fear to comfort through knowledge and understanding; converting shame of “should have done” to motivation for what “needs to be done” now. Affecting change motivates me, seeing change in others brings me joy.

How I got here

I joined the industry in 2001 weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks. I opened my own firm months before the 2008 Financial Crisis. I’ve been face-to-face with the debilitating power of fear personally and professionally. These experiences shaped me, built my understanding of emotions as drivers of behavior. I understand the importance of healthy financial habits so money becomes a tool for possibility and not a cause of stress and fear.

I am a proud graduate of Rutgers University where I played field hockey and earned a degree in Biomathematics. I also have my master’s degree in financial services from American College.

What I do really well

I have a knack for making hard things easier. I see the big picture quickly whether that’s a complicated financial situation or emotions derailing good decision-making.

I am a good communicator. I take pride is avoiding big words and financial jargon, boiling things down to what matters and explaining in simple terms. I work hard to create a judgement-free space for open and honest conversation. I like to believe clients recognize my honesty and empathy and feel comfortable being candid about their situation, their hopes and their fears.

What I’m most interested in for the financial wellness industry today

Change is constant. Navigating it often requires financial skill. But achieving success demands more than just following a map of financial dos and don’ts. Understanding your money personality can transform your life.

Our industry often succeeds in helping clients build wealth for retirement as if retirement was a finish line and wealth an end unto itself. But financial wellness is more than just saving and investing. It’s behavioral, mental, and emotional, too. I hope the financial wellness industry embraces all those things in guiding folks to living their best life however they define it. Money is merely a tool in a much larger picture, and a good financial coach is one that cannot be replaced with a calculator.

Who I am when I’m not at work

I love my work. What I do and who I am professionally is just as much a part of me at home. I am deeply committed to change in personal areas of my life too. For example, we are change agents for public opinion about pit bulls. We have two rescued pitties, Dutch and Grace, who travel with our family constantly, ambassadors for their breed.

 My husband, Tom, and three children Connor, Jackson and Catherine are active members of the Lancaster community supporting everything from MFG DAY for trade and technical career exploration to youth sports and neighborhood food drives. We are also lovers of the great outdoors and spend time at the beach, hiking and skiing.

About Align Retirement Plan Advisors

We are an independent advisory team in Lancaster, PA. We build indispensable partnerships with each other, with clients, industry partners and our community. We strive to be the people others turn to on their best days – and their worst days – for wisdom and compassion. We align investments and personal intentions to create financial plans that aim to endure life’s twists and turns. We want those we serve to look back with pride on the things they accomplished with our partnership.

We are dedicated retirement advisors working at both the employer level – helping employers build progressive, innovative, meaningful retirement benefits – and the employee level – offering financial coaching, planning and investment management that helps them make the most of their money resources.

Like Albert Einstein said, “Nothing changes until something moves.” We want to help you get moving toward a rich life – rich in spirit, rich in relationship, rich in experience and supported by a solid financial education and a healthy attitude toward money!